Monday, August 27, 2012

Can Israel trust the United States on Iran?

From the English version an op-ed published in Maariv, 22 August 2012, by Ely Karmon, Ph.D., Senior Research Scholar, International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) and The Institute for Policy and Strategy (IPS) at The Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzlyia, Israel:

The main issue in the internal dispute in Israel, and between Israeli and American leaders, concerning the timing of an attack on the Iranian nuclear facilities is the question if Israel can trust that President Obama will keep his promise and order the strike before Iran achieves a military capability.
Israeli President Shimon Peres recently said "that he trusted U.S. President Barack Obama to prevent the Islamic Republic from obtaining nuclear weapons." The historical record of American presidents' response to the challenges posed by the Tehran regime speaks to the contrary.
President Carter not only did not support the Shah of Iran in his fight against the Khomeinist revolution, but he did not solve politically and operationally the ensuing 444 days hostage crisis of the 44 American diplomats imprisoned by the Khomeinist regime. And Carter lost his second bid to the presidency.
President Reagan, an acclaimed fighter against international terrorism, bombed Libya and Kaddafi personally for the killing of two GIs in a bar in Berlin but did not dare challenge Tehran, albeit withdrew American peace troops from Lebanon, after Hezbollah under Iranian guidance bombed twice the U.S. embassy in Beirut, killed 270 marines in one suicide bombing, kidnapped and assassinated dozens of Americans in Lebanon and hijacked American planes.
President Clinton knew precisely the Iranian intelligence's role in the 1996 terrorist attack on the Khobar Towers in Dahran, Saudi Arabia, where 19 U.S. servicemen were killed and dozens wounded. He kept secret the information provided by the Saudi driver of the reconnaissance vehicle in the attack, who flew to Canada and was extradited to the U.S... He preferred to engage in negotiations with the Iranian "reformist" President Khatami (who remembers him?) rather than punish Iran.
President Bush junior, who by occupying Iraq thought to encircle Iran with American troops and convince the main member of the "axis of evil" to bow to U.S. pressure, did not retaliate against Tehran for its support to Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army and other split factions fighting American forces on the ground. Bush preferred to give Israel the green light to bomb the Syrian plutonium reactor rather than engage the United States in such an adventure.
Public declarations by leading US military leaders, like former Chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen and the present Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, Gen. Anthony Zinni, Former Centcom Commander, Gen. Ron Burgess, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, former CIA and National Security Agency (NSA) chief Gen. Michael Hayden, warning against a military attack on Iran, or the open letter published on the Washington Post by a group of high-level military and intelligence officials in March 2012, urging President Obama to resist pressure to attack Iran's nuclear program, probably convinced the Ayatollahs and the Iranian military commanders there is little to worry from the Americans.
Finally, the North Korean nuclear military project is a living example of non-fulfilled promises by Presidents Clinton and Bush to dismantle a rogue regime from its aggressive capabilities.
President Obama has adopted a strategy of asking for the legitimacy of the UN Security Council and the international community before deciding on a military intervention abroad, as the Libyan and presently the Syrian crisis prove. How much time he will wait for the Russian and Chinese support in the SC, let alone for the European support, for such an action?
The American reticence to attack Iran's nuclear project does not mean that Israel must renounce to convince the United States, European, and Arab, leaders of the need for a military operation against Iran's nuclear facilities. Many seem to prefer Israel should do the "dirty work" in order for them to vilify it afterwards.
The Israeli leaders should decide on an independent attack only at the last possible moment of the so called "zone of immunity." They should resist the temptation to do it hastily before the outcome of the Syrian crisis, which could have tremendous impact on the regional balance of power vis-à-vis Iran but also generate major political and social repercussions in Iran itself, possibly leading to a popular uprising of the Persian people.
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